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Is Israel a Jewish State?

Is Israel a Jewish State?

The key to Arab-Israeli peace is to compel the Arab world to abandon its dream of liquidating Israel.


In advance of the upcoming diplomatic conference in Annapolis, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced the other day that he expects the Palestinian Authority to finally acknowledge Israel's existence as a Jewish state. A newly arrived visitor from Mars might wonder why this should even be an issue -- after all, Israel *is* a Jewish state. If the more than 55 countries that make up the Organization of the Islamic Conference are entitled to recognition as Muslim states, and if the 22 members of the Arab League are universally accepted as Arab states, why should anyone balk at acknowledging Israel as the world's lone Jewish state?

Yet Olmert's demand was rebuffed. Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian Authority negotiator, said on Monday that Palestinians would refuse to recognize Israel's Jewish identity on the grounds that "it is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion." According to the Jerusalem Post, Erekat told Radio Palestine: "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined."

In fact, there are many countries in which national identity and religion are linked. Argentinian law mandates government support for the Roman Catholic faith. Queen Elizabeth II is the supreme governor of the Church of England. In the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the constitution proclaims Buddhism the nation's "spiritual heritage." The Danish and Norwegian royal families must be members, respectively, of the Church of Denmark and the Church of Norway. "The prevailing religion in Greece," declares Section II of the Greek Constitution, "is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ."

In no region of the world do countries so routinely link their national character to a specific religion as in the Muslim Middle East. The flag of Saudi Arabia features the shahada -- the Islamic declaration of faith -- in white Arabic script on a green background; on the Iranian flag, the Islamic phrase "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great") appears 22 times. And then there is Erekat's own Palestinian Authority, whose Basic Law provides in Article 4 that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine" and that "the principles of Islamic sharia shall be the main source of legislation."

Clearly, then, Erekat and the Palestinian Authority do not refuse to accept Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state out of some principled opposition to linking national and religious identity. Perhaps, our visiting Martian might surmise, their objection is simply tactical: Are the Palestinians withholding formal recognition from Israel in order to extract some corresponding recognition for themselves?

But that explanation also doesn't hold water. Olmert has repeatedly endorsed the creation of a sovereign state of Palestine. "We support the establishment of a modern, democratic Palestinian state," he says. "The existence of two nations, one Jewish and one Palestinian, is the full solution to the national aspirations and problems of each of the peoples." Last week he went so far as to suggest that a plan for Palestinian peace and statehood might be achieved "even before the end of President Bush's term in office."

They seek to live not in peace with the Jewish state, but in place of the Jewish state.

So why won't the leaders of the Palestinian Authority acknowledge the obvious -- that Israel is the Jewish state? The Jewish connection to Palestine is a matter not just of rich historical fact, but of international law. When the League of Nations entrusted Britain with the Mandate for Palestine in 1922, it expressly recognized "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine" and the rightfulness of "reconstituting their national home in that country." By that point, Britain had already transferred 80 percent of historic Palestine to Arab rule -- today's Muslim kingdom of Jordan. All that remained for a Jewish state was the residual 20 percent (and even that was later subdivided). But there, at least, it was clear that the Jewish community was "in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance," as Winston Churchill underscored at the time.

Eighty-five years later, that small sliver of the Middle East is home to nearly half the world's Jews. If that isn't a Jewish state, what is?

Yet all this is beside the point. The refusal of the Palestinian Authority, and for that matter most of the Arab world, to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate Jewish state isn't a denial of reality; it is a sign of their determination to undo that reality. Like Arab leaders going back a century, they seek to live not in peace with the Jewish state, but in place of the Jewish state. Olmert can show up at Annapolis bearing Palestinian sovereignty on a silver platter, with half of Jerusalem thrown in for good measure. He will not walk away with peace. On the contrary: He will intensify the Arab determination to replace the world's one Jewish state with a 23rd Arab state.

The key to Arab-Israeli peace is not Palestinian statehood. It is to compel the Arab world to abandon its dream of liquidating Israel. As a matter of national self-respect, Olmert should repeat his demand that the Palestinians acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity -- and make it nonnegotiable. If Israel cannot insist even on so fundamental a point of honor, it has already lost more than it knows.

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Visitor Comments: 33

(32) Beverly Kurtin, October 2, 2011 4:28 PM


Arabs refuse to recognize Israel's Jewish identity on the grounds that "it is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion." According to the Jerusalem Post, Erekat told Radio Palestine: "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined." If I had been a fish, I’d have been caught because my mouth dropped open when I read that absurdity. The Arabs (there is no such a thing as a “Palestinian”) are past masters of the BIG LIE even when it is clear to any person that they are lying through their teeth. By his own mouth he hangs himself. Here, in the United States, there are misled people who think that the U.S. is a Christian country and that the first amendment to the Constitution was put in place to protect Christianity. From what or whom do the Christians need protection? I tied both of the absurd notions together because they come from a common root of non-thinking. The world’s largest religion is Christianity followed closely by Islam. From whom do they require protection? Benjamin Franklin once said that a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. In other words, don’t convince people with facts, their minds are made up. Look at every war that is currently being fought around the world and you will find that the Muslims have their dirty paws in the fighting. Islam needs reforming more now than ever before because if it isn’t, the threat of nuclear war will sooner or later become a fact.

(31) Elizabeth, January 20, 2008 6:03 PM

I love it, you are so right. The Arabs want nothing to do with Israel.All of Israel has to know that they can not trust anything the Arabs say, I pray and hope that Israel does not yield any of its land to the palestinians because it will only exacerbate the situation. thanks for defending the land of Abraam ,Jacob and Joseph. I love the nation of Israel.

(30) Reg Saretsky, December 23, 2007 10:08 PM

well , According to HAMAS television

Jews under Islam lived in a "golden Age" of Dhimmn, protected by Moslem Cavaliers.. & currently all Zionists are completely miserable becuase they are attempting to 'govern themselves'..

Hey, who knew?
I also believe Farfur Mouse is real, but that's just me ]:-')

(29) Øystein Hansen, December 11, 2007 8:28 AM

The difference between PLO and Hamas only tactical

Erekat`s reaction to Olmert`s "demand" indicates what little difference there is after all between PLO/PA and Hamas regarding Israel. It seems to be only a matter of strategy down the road to their ultimate common goal of throwing Israel and the Jews into the sea.I feel ashamed living here in Oslo and see how our socialist government giving millions of dollars away to the weapon-dealers and terrorists. Why are Europe, and the entire world, so blind?? I am afraid that terrible times lies ahead of us, but I also believe that the Almighty is standing by Israel and will never let them down.

(28) Rohn, December 1, 2007 4:45 PM

The people of Israel have to stop worrying about what the World thinks. The World is completely addicted to oil and Muslims know they can buy friendship with it. If we are to believe what Jeremiyah and Ezekial said, It won't matter much anyway. The Eternal One knows that the Yahudim (or Jewish people) were given the title deed to the land. In that deed the land was quite a bit larger. You all seem to think your better off with a smaller state.
Not one country in the Middle East has turned their land into a Garden state, not since Babylon. You folks have and you have done it in only 60 years time. Not one country has offered any help to the poor Palestinians, certainly not any Arab or Muslim country. No land, no citizenship, no jobs. Ah, they have offered weapons. Just what every young man needs, a religion of war and a few weapons.
I don't know much about how you elect your leaders, but sadly Olmert didn't put you on this road, he didn't give Gaza away. How many Gaza's are there in the area called the West Bank?
I'm thinking that a two-state solution might just work, if you put the "so called" Palestianians somewhere, say, south of Mecca. It's a place called Texas. I'll quit being funny. I thought that the area called Jordan was created for the people that wanted to call themselves Palestinians. Odd thing is, no one wanted the land and no one wanted to be a Palestinian until the Israelites came and made the place worth calling a home. Glory to G_d.
Last word! If you all want to give your country away, I suppose it is yours to do it with. After all it was your ancestors that gave 85% of world there history. Whatever you do decide, don't divide Jerusalem.

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